Tuesday 20 March 2018 2:35 pm

Legal ranking firm Chambers and Partners scooped up by Virgin Experience Days owner Inflexion

Legal rankings business Chambers and Partners came top of Inflexion's books today, as the private equity firm announced it had bought the business for an undisclosed price.

Founded in 1990, Chambers is used by corporates to help them choose legal advisers and by law firms to help select individual lawyers to hire. City A.M. understands Inflexion paid between £35m and £50m.

It has bought the business, which ranks more than 80,000 lawyers and law firms in almost 200 jurisdictions, directly from its founder – the charismatic Michael Chambers, known for his eccentric traits such as playing the trumpet at company events.

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“The legal services market is a large and growing market which we have tracked for a number of years," said Inflexion's Simon Turner.

"Chambers benefits from a leading, global position and a reputation for providing the best rankings and research in the industry. There are multiple opportunities for the business to develop its market leading position internationally and through an enhanced digital offering."

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Inflexion plans to help the business, which has historic revenues of just under £20m per year, launch new products as it strengthens its digital offering.

Michael Chambers will retain ownership of Chambers' current Holborn base, according to sources, which he is planning to turn into an independent cinema. His former business will be moving to new offices.

Mark Wyatt, chairman of Minisoft which provides technology to help law firms collect their fees, has joined as chief executive of Chambers having been a former managing director.

City A.M. understands Wyatt had previously tried to lead a management buy-in with private equity backing to take control of Chambers, but the companies were unable to agree terms.

Steve Halbert, current chairman of Inflexion portfolio company Alcumus and former head of UK mergers and acquisitions at KPMG, will become chairman.

Behind the deal

Stuart Sparkes, Raymond James

  • Inflexion has been one of Sparkes’ best clients for many years. He described the firm as “entrepreneurial” and a “fantastic organisation”.
  • The team at six-month-old Raymond James UK is doing its “own little bit of entrepreneurialism” at the moment, as it attempts to establish a UK presence away from its massive US base. The workload has limited any time for hobbies, but Sparkes is adamant he will find time off to take his three children skiing at Easter.

Also advising…

  • Laura Maddison, Raymond James’s senior vice president, worked alongside Sparkes, recreating what he termed the “dynamic duo” which they formed during several years at Deloitte.
  • It’s unusual in today’s competitive market conditions for a private equity firm to be able to grab an off-market deal – one which isn’t won in an auction – said Maddison.
  • Though the last few months helping to build Raymond James have been "hugely exciting", according to Maddison, she looks forward to seeing more of her one-year-old son.

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